The Commemorative Ritual Chekan in the Ethnocultural Landscape of an Udmurt Village

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Key words
Udmurts, cult of the ancestors, commemorative ritual Chekan, deceased by nonnatural causes, deceased abroad, topography of ritual
Nikolai V. Anisimov
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +372 (5) 555-64-59
42, Vanemuise str., Tartu, 51003, Estonia PhD, Researcher, Folklore Department,
Estonian Literary Museum Tel.: + 7 (462) 68-89-11
4, Lomonosov str., Izhevsk, 426004, Russian Federation
Junior Researcher, Department of Philological Studies, Udmurt Institute of History, Language and Literature of the Udmurt Federal Research Center, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

Work on this article was financially supported by research grant EKM 8–2/20/3 of the Estonian Literary Museum and the Center for Advanced Training in Estonian Studies (TK 145) through the European Regional Development Fund. The author expresses his gratitude to E. Toulouze and T. G. Vladykina for their valuable comments and assistance in working on the text.


Based on fieldwork, this article examines a local Udmurt commemoration ritual called Chekan, which is strictly associated with one of the summer months of leap years and included in the cycle of commemorative rituals dedicated to a particular category of deceased — ​people
having died abroad and by non-natural causes. The participants in this ritual are only the inhabitants of two related villages, Kalashur (in Udmurt Vuzh Tigyrmen) and Dubrovskiy (in Udmurt Vyl’ Tigyrmen) in the Kiyasovo District of the Udmurt Republic, as well as people who had left these villages but came back on purpose to attend. The ceremony takes place downstream of the Shekhostanka River (in Udmurt Miyol) relative to the village of Kalashur; locals call it “chekan/chekas’kon in’ty” (“the place of the Chekan/Chekas’kon”). Everything in the surrounding space (the spring, meadow, sacrificial spruce, etc.), includes “Chekan” — ​the name of the ceremony — ​in their designation and continues to preserve a sacred significance. Repeated participation in the ritual has allowed the author to reconstruct its diachrony, to describe its synchronic forms and to follow the evolution of the ritual scenario. The infrequency of the ritual has led to the reduction and simplification of its structure, a decrease in both in quantitative participation and in its diversity, as well as to a change of place. In general, the waning of this tradition has entailed a significant transformation of the cultural and religious landscape of the village.


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For citation

Anisimov N. V. The Commemorative Ritual Chekan in the Ethnocultural Landscape of an Udmurt Village. Traditional Culture. 2021. Vol. 22. No. 1. Pp. 145–156. In Russian.